PORTSMOUTH — The high school sports calendar waits for no one.
Less than two weeks following their girls basketball program’s Region 15 Final appearance, the Notre Dame High School softball program is officially in full swing prior to the start of their season opener on Saturday, March 25 with a twin-bill of games against Rock Hill and Hillsboro.
This year’s group of Lady Titan softballers features many of their familiar faces from last year’s trip to the Region 15 Final, sans Class of ‘22 seniors Madison Brown and Mia McPheters.
The 2023 Notre Dame team again features just two seniors — Annie Dettwiller and Libby Kelly — on a roster comprised of 17 players.
Dettwiller, a four-year member of Notre Dame’s volleyball, girls basketball, and softball programs commented at their media day how the strength of this year’s group is unquestionably their depth.
“Our depth for sure. Lots of younger girls who are so talented — every single spot we have someone with great talent,” Dettwiller said. “There’s no holes, all the way around.”
Depth and experience is a dangerous combination these Lady Titans are hoping make a difference come May — and potentially later at the Division IV state tournament in June.
In their run to reaching the program’s third Regional Final, Notre Dame outscored opponents 38-2 in the postseason before falling to eventual D-IV state champion Strasburg-Franklin in the Elite Eight.
That run came with nearly their entire ‘23 team returning for another go at their lofty goals this spring.
“I’m so excited to see the potential that we have and the ways we can grow throughout the season,” Kelly said. “It was really fun as a team. And I want to experience more. We’ve all been there a lot, we want to go further and make history.”
Another strength these Lady Titans feature is no doubt their dominant pitchers in the circle.
Junior Gwen Sparks earned first team all-Ohio honors by the Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association (OHSFSCA) during her sophomore season. Sparks was one of four sophomores on the first team all-Ohio list.
She was also named SOC I Pitcher of the Year as one of five Notre Dame players selected to the all-conference list.
Joining her on the first team was now junior Kyndall Ford and senior Dettwiller, as well as Kelly and now sophomore Bree Hicks on the second team.
“I have so much trust in my defense and my whole team,” Sparks said, of her team. “I love how everyone has so much confidence in each other, it makes it easier to improve as players in practices and games.”
“I feel like we’re pretty excited, we’re ready. We feel like it’s going to be a good one,” Ford said, of looking forward to the season. “It’s definitely left us with some experience. And we need that for when we go into our tournament run this year.”
In addition to their usual SOC I schedule, Notre Dame will have non-league games in their two season-opening games mentioned before and games versus Sheridan, Logan, Wahama (W.Va.), Gallia Academy, and Wellston.
They’ll travel to Orlando, Fla. between April 10-15 for a slate of games against out-of-state opponents.
All of that top tier preparation in hopes of breaking through and reaching the D-IV state tournament at Akron’s Firestone Stadium.
“Going on a long tournament run like that, it’s always fun, exciting and creates great memories,” Dettwiller said. “Getting to repeat that this year and hopefully go farther, I think it’s really beneficial.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved